The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Liquor industry joins the #BlackLivesMatter cause

The death of George Floyd in US police custody in May this year highlighted the racial inequalities happening not only in America but around the world.

The IWSR reports that the alcohol industry has joined the cause to stamp out systemic racism and support the Black Lives Matter movement.

In June, Weathered Souls Brewing Company in the US (pictured) launched a multi-brewery collaborative stout-recipe project to bring awareness to racial injustice: Black is Beautiful.

100% of proceeds will be donated to non-profit organisations committed to the short- and long-term fight against racial discrimination.

Craft brewers often have close ties to their local communities, and the movement has given them the means to further strengthen these relationships, resonating with consumers looking for brands that share their belief systems.

Diageo-owned Guinness donated $1 million to organisations fighting racial inequality in the US in the wake of the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests. And Jack Daniel’s Distillery and the Nearest Green Distillery have pledged $5 million for programmes that advance African Americans to leadership opportunities in the industry.

Many companies have also promised to further raise the profile of black voices across the industry, reports the IWSR. Publishers such as Wine Enthusiast showed support for black-owned wine shops by highlighting black-owned wine business in their publications and via social media.

While these examples foreground the issue, the reality remains that only 0.06% of the almost 9,000 wineries in the US are black-owned. That is considerably less than the population’s 13% demographic representation in the country.

However, during the week following Floyd’s death, black-owned wineries had larger-than-usual orders from supporters.

In New Zealand, the number of Māori-owned wineries is also small.

Last year, Lina Stroud, business manager for Tiki Wine & Vineyards, told Vine Pair: “There are about 600 wine brands in New Zealand; about 80 of those have Māori names but only six of those have any Māori connections.”

IWSR says that with salient awareness of social inequality issues, companies will be charged to take actions that go beyond purpose-driven advertising messages.

“Contemporary consumers are looking for brands to do more than simply make statements of support: they want transparency and authenticity, and they want to know how companies are tangibly addressing racial inequalities.

“The $170.5 billion beverage-alcohol industry in the US certainly has a lot to contribute in this new era of transformation.”

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